Throughout the nation, states with Republican governors and GOP-led legislatures are tapping deep into the political zeitgeist and availing themselves of the opportunities of the moment to devise and execute creative solutions to imaginary problems. Here is a rundown of some of those efforts. …
Imaginary problem: It is just too difficult to obtain and bear firearms in the United States.
Unnecessary solution: Take aim at existing gun laws.
Execution: Red states across the country are responding to the escalating carnage of gun violence by pushing back on the onerous restrictions that, despite the Second Amendment, somehow still remain in place. As the New York Times recently reported, “In Kentucky, Ohio, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia, Republicans have pushed this year to limit gun-free zones, remove background checks and roll back red-flag laws that seek to remove firearms from those who are a danger to themselves or others.”
And then there’s Tennessee, which has long had some of the nation’s laxest gun laws. In July 2021, it approved allowing anyone 21 or older to carry a handgun, either openly or concealed, without any sort of training or permit. (“It shouldn’t be hard for law-abiding Tennesseans to exercise their #2A rights,” Gov. Bill Lee tweeted after signing his name.) But early this year, before a shooter with seven legal guns opened fire at a private Christian elementary school in Nashville, killing three young children and three adults, Tennessee Republicans decided they needed to do more.
They introduced a bill to remove the state’s cruel prohibition on brandishing guns and other weapons on college campuses, as well as public parks, playgrounds, and recreational facilities. The bill, before it was amended, called for allowing “law enforcement officers to carry a firearm when under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances”—language the bill’s lead sponsor, state Sen. Joey Hensley, said appeared without his knowledge or consent. Even with this language taken out, the bill still did not pass. But Tennessee House Republicans did stick together enough to expel two black Democrats who made a fuss about the legislature’s failure to do anything about gun violence besides encouraging it.
— Bill Lueders in Unnecessary Solutions to Imaginary Problems